Dinner for Three

Samurai Champloo fanfiction by Midnight Crow

March 15, 2005: Yay! It makes me so happy to finally have a place to put this fic. I've been waiting so long for a Samurai Champloo category. XD

Note: I succumbed. Conceptualized February 14, 2005.

Just like the week before, and the week even before that, they had scarcely eaten anything today.

Naturally, it was Jin who saved them from dying of starvation. His sharp eyes, although somewhat wooly from hunger, witnessed a heavy pouch drop while an elderly matron puttered and passed the three of them. Seemingly the most wasted, Mugen was sprawled out on the side of the road, much to the displeasure of finicky passers-by, but even he had jumped to his feet as soon as he heard the jangling of coins in Jin's hand.

"Hand it over," he said, eyes dancing greedily.

Fuu had also risen from her curled-up position, and her young face was one of interest as she peered at the purse's contests. She clapped her hands together at the sight of coins up to the brim. "Oh, that lady must be really rich!"

Mugen nodded, not taking his eyes off the purse.

"But you are going to return it, aren't you, Jin?" She pointed towards the direction of the bookstore across the road. "Look, there she is."

Wordlessly, the tall samurai turned around and walked away from them. Of course, Mugen had to be restrained by the collar after this.

Yet Lady Luck herself seemed to pity them that day. Not many wealthy old ladies existed during that era, especially one who would part with half the contents of a returned purse.

"This should feed us for a week!" A delighted Fuu announced, before continuing to count their newfound money meticulously.

"Idiots. I still say we should have kept it all. Then it'll feed us for more than that," Mugen retorted.

The three stopped in front of a covered stall whose delicious smells enticed them to enter and stay for a meal. Each took a seat - Mugen flopping down carelessly; Fuu adjusting her kimono, purse clenched in her little fist; and ever so solemn Jin sat down in his most dignified manner.

His straight-faced demeanor, however, almost broke upon hearing Fuu chat up the owner and order a long list with the total count of viands exceeding the number of fingers in his hand.

"Oi, oi. You said it'll feed us for a week," Mugen warned her.

"Eh, don't worry about it! I have it all planned here." She tapped the side of her head and smiled winsomely, missing the expression of Mugen's face that said he'd have liked to keep the purse himself.

Any worries on Fuu's budgeting skills disappeared as soon as a whiff of the first course the owner served them entered their nostrils. There was no denying the pangs of hunger that had plagued them for weeks. The smell of steaming noodles had the desired effect of making their mouths water.

Immediately Mugen had dove into his food without inhibition. Completely contrasting him was Jin who said a silent prayer of thanks before attacking his. Only Fuu seemed to be out of sorts - she only had a modest taste before her normally cheerful face frowned then became downcast.

It was by accident that Mugen's eyes flickered towards her direction while he downed his meal, and noticed her stirring the noodles endlessly, her chin rested on her palm.

"Looks like someone lost her appetite," he said in mocking tones.

Fuu released her breath noisily, tapping the bottom of the bowl with her utensil and a visible edginess. Jin's eyebrows raised.

Annoyed, Mugen set his bowl down and cocked his head towards the girl. "What?" he demanded. An impatient scowl appeared on his sodden face when she didn't answer him. "Oi, what the hell's the matter?"

Even Jin's attention had peaked, and he paused in his own consumption. "Is something amiss?" he asked gravely.

"Eh?" Fuu finally replied, torn from her disconsolate reverie, and saw her two companions looking at her strangely. "Oh, it's nothing, just that" She broke off and sighed, staring at her untouched food.

"What?" Both men prompted.

Fuu was now tracing characters with her utensil, watching ripples form on the liquid surface with every stroke. After some time, she spoke up again. "I just thought that"

"Aa, I know. This whole quest thing is total bullshit - and you just realized it now?" Mugen blurted out the first thing that popped in his mind. He crossed his arms and the look on his face affirmed his conviction.

Even Jin's head nodded slightly at this idea.

Fuu blinked. "Mou, of course not!" Her lips pressed together in annoyance.

"What is it, then?" Jin asked.

"Oh…" Her head dropped down to stare at her food in distaste. "It's too hot."

"That's it?" Mugen exclaimed, disgusted. "Gimme that."

To Fuu's surprise and dismay, he snatched the stew from her. "He-ey, what are you doing, give that ba"

Too late. Mugen scrunched up his face, took a deep breath, and blew on the simmering noodles.

It was fortunate that she was able to lean backwards and duck in time. However, Jin found his sleeve splattered with the contents of the bowl.

He stared at it, as if he could will it out of existence. Time stopped for Fuu, who held her breath as she did the same.

Then a snort rang out from Mugen.

Jin's eyes narrowed.

"Don't worry," Fuu had reassured him moments after, walking between the two men, "Mugen will wash it."

She had successfully stopped a premature enactment of the two men's promise to kill each other. Unfortunately, the uproar that happened caused the owner to drive them away in panic.

"Speak for yourself," Mugen muttered, his bushy hair dripping with the bowl Fuu had dropped on him.

Yet for the meantime, at least, his stomach was full.


February 15, 2005 - 2:00 AM Haha, it's not really executed the way I planned it. But I'm sleepy now…